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When I first heard they were doing a fifth and final season to conclude this show I was overjoyed. Not because I want the show to end but because if the journey getting there is this damn good, then the ending is going to completely melt my mind. But after watching this episode, my emotions about this show ending have dramatically changed. I now extremely loath the idea of this show ending because there is not a doubt in my mind that there is never going to be another television show that can come close to the greatness and perfection that is Breaking Bad. At least not in my lifetime. And even if you don't agree with me 100% about the show being so phenomenal, you can't deny that this mid-season finale kept you on the edge of your seat and then falling off it during the last minute of the episode. And then you were probably as angry as I was when you remembered that we have to wait until next year for the next episode.
Every season of Breaking Bad does it: that moment when you realise your
jaw has dropped and you are completely aghast at two separate things -
the shocking turn of events and the fearless brilliance of the shows
creators. The 'mid-season finale' does not disappoint.
I can scarcely thing of a less predictable show than BB. No matter if you guess one of the things that might happen - you'll never guess how, and anyone who hasn't seen this episode should run mile from anyone who tries to spoil it for them. Again, Vince Gilligan makes amazing use of the shows back catalogue of episodes to make this episode fit so beautifully, almost poetically, as a key point in the story of so many characters. It ends the mini-season leaving you itching to jump forward in time so you can find out what happens next, and is easily the best episode in what has been another incredible season.
Discussions will rage on geek sites for the next 8 months and in bars all over the US and hopefully the world about what should happen, what will happen, who the hero of the show is or will be, and who will survive. The saddest thing is that this masterpiece of television will end next year, leaving a Sopranos-sized whole in the lives of all those who have watched it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No other series in television history has so cleverly been able to
transmute the protagonist into the antagonist in such an incremental,
turn-by-turn almost justified way; and this episode ultimately shows
that Walt, no matter how honest his intentions of reform were, is
unable to escape from the consequences of choices he has made and from
the reality that, hiding in plain sight can only protect for so long.
An absolutely brilliant episode of sheer film directing brilliance. As Walt cleans up his mess and eradicates threats which may undermine his operations and identity, he makes a seemingly genuine commitment to opt out of the operation and of the trade. The episode shows his gradual mending of his broken relationship and fractured self - or at least - a realization that 'being the best' at meth isn't leading to his contentment and happiness as it had previously promised. He wants his life back.
However the cliff-hanger we are left with is the point of Hank's sudden realization; or at least being put on notice - of Walt's darker identity and his connection with Gail. An absolute brilliant last 5 seconds that will propel the anxious wait until the latter part of the season. I can't wait.
Vince Gilligan's true masterpiece of directorship in taking the viewer on a calm joy ride of normality only to the shock of Hank's realization - a realization we've all known was inevitable. What a brilliant show. In terms of directorship, acting and momentum its generated, an unqualified 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
But then I took a meth lab to the knee.
Gliding over all is the 8th episode of the 5th and final season of Breaking Bad.
After a very short 2 months, we are at the mid season break of our favorite show on television. No, not small town security, BREAKING BAD!
Gliding over all starts off with a very still Heisenberg, looking at, what other than, a fly! Remind anyone of another episode? No? OK, moving on.
Jesse swings by the shed to confirm with Heisenberg that Mike made it out OK, Heisenberg replies with a very straight forward "He's gone." Jesse, having the analyzing skills of a 5th grader, believes that Mike truly made it out OK, I expect that to be a major part of the story next year.
After that, Heisenberg consults with Todd's uncle, and then, we get a very dark two minute stretch of men being shanked, tossed, burned, and beaten to death in prison. One may think after this, "wow, this show can't get much darker than that" One, would in fact, be wrong. The scene then skips to Heisenberg holding his year old daughter or so, while watching a news special about all the men that were just murdered in prison, so father like.
Now, to the important parts, we get to the best conversation in the show, Hank comes home from a very stressful day at work finding out that all 9 men have been murdered, aka, the only 9 men that knew anything about Gustavo's operation, after Hank talks to Heisenberg about his old job, and how this job is hurting him physically/emotionally, Heisenberg then calmly replies, "I used to love to go camping" Referencing the old days when him and Jesse used to cook out in the boonies in a beat up RV.
To avoid sounding like an echo, I'll assume you know the rest of the show and skip to the good part, Walt is, and I quote, "Done", that's right folks, you heard it from Walter himself, but then again, they don't show any proof of him dissolving the business so, it's pure speculation.
Now, if you're still reading this, here is my review of the episode! This episode does a great job of relieving some stress off of the show itself, IE: getting rid of mike's prison connections, paying off Jesse, and FINALLY, Walter and Skyler are talking again, I know, I finally called him Walter, he FINALLY is kind of likable again. But to every happy moment, there is a 5'7 Dea agent to stick his bald head in the wrong place, and that just happens to be Hank. Although this wasn't a surprising ending, it is a HUGE cliff hanger, so while we are all waiting another 8 months to see the final episodes of Breaking Bad, we can try and guess what is going to happen, but until then, I rate this episode, a ten, out of ten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like it hasn't always been perfect.
Ever since the first scene of this season, it has been the best one of Breaking Bad yet. I don't think there has been a season that has been so consistent than this 5th one. Every episode is phenomenal and this last one of the half season is no different. Not only do I think that it's phenomenal, but it's one of the best episodes ever crafted in TV history. In terms of Breaking Bad I don't think there are more than 2 episodes that could compete with this one; 'Face Off' and 'Crawl Space'
Everything about this episode has been out of hand; the directing, cinematography, acting, story development, and last but most definitely not least the conclusion. This episode is the epitome of all things Breaking Bad. There are montages (2 of them), many deaths, 'cooking', stacks of money, Skyler not being a complete bitch, crazy drug deals, great music, and purple. The montage killing the nine guys in jail was a key, perfect moment. Not many scenes are directed that perfectly. And finally after a whole season of 100% unhappiness and tragedy with Heisenberg, we see Walter White back rekindling with his renewed family and finally out of the business. Only for the most shocking conclusion to any season; episode; show ever is history.
Never on TV has there been such a great ending with someone taking a s**t. Hank is taking a dump in Walt's house only to find a book given to Walt by non other than Gale Boeticher (or however you spell it). Hank, looking through the book, catches a very touching dedication to Walt by Gale; he makes the final connection he has forever needed. Hank knows about Walt and the episode ends there, with Hank taking a crap. Now, we have a vague idea about what the M60 machine gun at the beginning of the season was about. Honestly, after it ended I was trembling. It was ridiculously impacting.
Let's see if Walt could continue 'Gliding Over All'
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Too many familiar images were recalled during Breaking Bad's part one
finale to go unnoticed a fly, a CAT scan, the dented paper towel
dispenser, the famous RV, and, of course, Leaves of Grass (the image
that returns to offer us the episode's payoff)all images that seem to
suggest that the past is the simplest, yet perhaps most dangerous,
locale to inhabit.
And that much worked for me this episodethose winks to my not-so-inner Breaking Bad fangirl kept me intrigued until those last moments that almost set my anxiety levels over the edge. What nearly didn't, however, was how tidy it felt, how neatly (and easily) Walt's loose ends seemed tied up and how suddenly (despite the progression of time within the show's universe) our characters' motivations seemed to have shifted. It almost felt a digression; unnatural and frustrating.
But maybe that was the point.
When the episode first opens, we see Walt staring, lost in thought, at a fly, a symbol we've come to associate (thanks to Mr. Rian Johnson) with contamination and obsession. He's managed to successfully eliminate Mike, as well as the possibility of anyone else discovering his secret, and he's found an efficient, if uninspiring, new assistant in Todd, and yet, things still don't seem quite right. For one reason or another, Walt isn't feeling in that moment as he believes he should be, isn't thoroughly appreciating his spoils. Perhaps, in part, it's because even he hasn't quite figured out what pulling the trigger that ended Mike's life was meant to achieve, despite his telling Todd "it had to be done;" perhaps it's because he knows he can no longer rely on Jesse.
And that's only because his pride initially won't allow it. Not surprisingly, Jesse arrives moments before Mike is to meet his official end in a familiar barrel of hydrofluoric acid to speak with Walt privately. Wishing to know the status of Mike's getaway, Walt assures him "he's gone" and reels, almost childishly, when Jesse questions their next move. "There is no 'we,' Jesse," Walt tells him, "I'm the only vote left." Realizing that he is truly no longer under Walt's wing, Jesse leaves somewhat defeated, leaving Walt with no other options but to continue on.
When he later meets with Lydia in a coffee shop for the names of Mike's men, his vial of ricin in tow, Walt's plans to get rid of her as well are thwarted when she offers him not only the names he needs, but a proposition to expand his business internationally. Apparently, the Czech Republic has a rather large population of meth users that haven't even come close to trying something as pure as Walt's creation, and selling his product overseas would more than double his profit. It's a plan that, apparently, Gus Fring was in the final stages of organizing before "someone killed him," and upon learning that bit of information, Walt finds it difficult to refuse.
But knowing that Lydia is, for the time being, a minor threat doesn't leave him entirely in the clear. Armed with the list of names and the aid of Todd's white supremacist, "prison connections" uncle, Walt specifies his wish that all ten of Mike's guys, spread out over three prisons, be eliminated in only two minutes, a seemingly daunting task, but one that Walt's guys manage to pull off anyway. An impressive montage (almost reminiscent of a Scorsese-esque gangster flick) later, and it appears that Walt no longer has anything to fearhis obstacles are eliminated.
To read the rest of the review (IMDb form too short) visit: http://custodianfilmcritic.com/breaking-bad-5-8-gliding-over-all/
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being screened over two years (presumably to cause as much pain to me
as possible), the concluding season of this show opens with a
flash-forward to an event which is to come, before jumping back to the
aftermath of Gus' death and Walt's "victory" and continuing the story
from there. The flash-forward lets us know that the show knows where it
is going and, unlike the viewer at this point, how it will get there
but to be honest this is something that I no longer need convincing
about because the show has done nothing but proof to me that the core
of the show is mapped out really well and convincingly. The core of the
show of course being Walt's moral decline one small necessary step at
a time; and the first half of season 5 continues this really well.
A colleague of mine who also watches was surprised to learn of there being a fifth season; he was of the mind that the "I won" was the right place to end it, since all was tidied up, but to me the path ahead was obvious simply because of how well drawn all this has been so far. Walt is a brilliant cook but the tragedy of him is that he knows he is he knows he is one of the best in the world and we have seen a constant battle for him to get the recognition of this from those "above" him and also for him to reconcile the old view that his friends and family of him as a gentle teacher while he is really anything but this. With the fifth season it was a given that he would seek to step into Gus' shoes in some way or develop an empire for himself. The plot devices that are used to continue this path are occasionally a little far-fetched in their design; events such as a train-robbery and a few other aspects require the show to be strong to carry them but fortunately this is the case. To me it starts and ends with Walt all the characters are good but he is the key to it all.
His arrogance and ego have long overtaken his need or even his want. What was once horrific to him is just the latest small compromise he has to make and there is a brilliant scene where others start to realize this a scene that simply contains Walt whistling while he works. In support of this character, Skyler is really well used this season; she has had her "moral decline" happen to her without planning and the impact on her is tangible. What is even more evident though is that she cannot see any of what she feels in Walt and she knows he has done much worse than her, her fear is really well done. Jessie is sidelined a little but remains important and indeed has gradually become one of the few moral characters in the show. Mike's time is increased which is effective because he is not only a good character but is also key in the story moving forward. The events make sense but what makes them work so well is that all the characters totally make sense so yes, some of it is a bit of a stretch, but the way the characters act and move always makes sense. With one exception.
The exception to me is the final episode of season 5.1; an episode that feels rushed, lacking a flow and all about setting up the concluding half for 2013. How I feel about it may change with context given by this second half, but for now it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the half season. Although Walt does have a certain amount of "revelation" with the murder of Mike, it doesn't carry though enough to justify his sudden willingness to step away from the table where his ego has kept him all this time. Nor is there sufficient "bridging" to this decision. The jump in time from this decision to apparent domestic bliss also creates a problem in regards questions that would have been asked by Walt's partners in this period, while the sudden idea in Hank's head was not as well done as I had hoped it would be when it happened (and some form of this was always going to happen). It is still a decent episode but it just seemed less than the others.
The cast continue to be quite brilliant but this is due to the product they have to deliver. Gilligan's script and understanding of his characters is assured and, although he didn't direct any of these 8 episodes, his vision is well captured by others and the show has a very creative and engaging feel to it in terms of camera angles, music and general design. There are lots of examples of odd angles and creative illustrations of the cooking process but for me the standout was the series of vicious jailhouse murders playing out under lovely music while contrasting with the incredibly brutal action.
Overall this half season did not disappoint; yes I had some doubts on some aspects of plotting and I did feel that the 8th episode was not all it could have been (or rather that what it did needed to be better and done over more time) but generally this continues the very high bar set by the previous seasons. I will be sad to see the show end but equally cannot wait for it to do so as it is really hard to imagine that Gilligan will let us down at this point.
The characters introduced in season 5 are poorly developed,
uninteresting and seem to have been written in to hasten plot
development since the end of the series is near. The earlier characters
were MUCH richer, incorporated more interesting plot angles and
dialogue, etc. Compare Tuco, Jane, Combo, even Ken the lawyer to Lydia,
Todd, etc. The new characters are lame.
How convenient that Todd's relative (uncle) knows hit men on the inside of all of those institutions who can operate in that fashion. Killing ten at the same time is nonsense, I'm sorry. I can allow for Walter pulling off some borderline impossible acts but having the entire season depend on a constant string of them is tedious and unbelievable, in the real sense of the word. The train thing in the Dead Freight episode is thoroughly stupid.
I sincerely wish the show had stopped either at the end of season 3 or 4. It was an excellent show in its early seasons but has really softened over time. There are still some great moments but the show has lost its focus.
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